four icon challenge

[ENGL 527]

For class this week, we were to create our own “four icon challenge” (see here: Alan Levine) – a visual representation of a film reduced to its elements through four icons (see here: Kyle Tezak). Choosing a film was difficult; I wanted to make a representation of one I liked that wouldn’t be too obscure.( I did this in class with my students as a quick design challenge with The Princess Bride, but thought that would be too easy for class.) This was another product of Inkscape (which is proving to be an awesome program for the price – free!), and while it looks simple, quite a bit of care was given to make it appear as such. Each of these icons was of different dimensions, and it took quite a bit of moving the elements around to notice that they would look more uniform if they were all the same height to appear square. Because each icon was an individual element and of an off-white background, the dropper tool was used to match the space in between and around the icons all to the same shade of white. For the blue gel on the spotlight I filled the bulb area, added a glow effect, and blended the edges to give the appearance of illumination. Again, nothing fantastic, but if makes me think of the blue filters used in movies to suggest the light of the nighttime sky.  I contemplated coloring in the label of the beer bottle, but it proved rather difficult to execute with precision, and further, the prevailing black and white with only a small use of color seemed more effective/evocative of my choice of film.

Screen shot 2013-03-31 at 11.27.10 PM

Can you guess what my movie is?

Answer (highlight for reveal): Blue Velvet

Typographic Logo

[ENGL 527]

Discussion Question: Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis

While I think that using icon/pictorial graphics can work around this with more ease, how can bar or line graphs (or the other forms Drucker mentions) be designed to be both aesthetically pleasing/intriguing and rhetorically effective? Can the design impact not only what information is communicated, but how it is read? What I mean is, I think graphs are associated with certain disciplines/topic matters and communicate certain information in a certain way that is more expected/formed (trying to avoid adjectives like “dull”, or thoughts of “skip this chunk of the reading” here…).

For class this week, I designed a typographic logo for my webspace/scholarship that attempts to brand (maybe?) technical composition. While I have played with font before, I haven’t really experimented with downloading fonts (why?) or used a design platform outside of PowerPoint. So while it’s nothing fancy, it’s my first creation in Inkscape trying my hand at visual rhetoric without an image to drive/set the visual.


This logo was my first experiment with Inkscape. It started as a mass download of fonts. Deciding on what would be cast in this font was difficult; I wanted to create something that I could use. Given my present position in life/school, I thought creating something for my personal webspace I’m building would not only be useful, but cool. I chose “technical composition” from my current scholarship and MA project, and from how I’m being defined/imagined in the field as my work circulates in conferences, campus visits, and web exchanges. Technical composition writ large (started as):

techcomptextAfter choosing a font, I had the start of my design. What I found more generative though, was the material the concept afforded me semiotically – technical, as I am using the term, comes from the Greek  techne, or craft. Visually, I thought this blends of with the word “technical” and “techne” was not only more novel, but actually served as more of a heuristic device for imagining an understanding of the concept as I am terming/conceptualizing it. From my research, techne has a certain relationship to assemblage – a composing of heterogeneous materials to form a composition (a dynamic whole). I attempted to illustrate this by constructing a composite line that comes together at the end.